The latest version of the Lotus Elise weighs 898kg. That’s extremely light, but the machine you see here laughs in the face of the little sports car from Hethel by tipping the scales at 852kg. That’s despite having an engine twice the size and with four times the cylinders. And having a ruddy-great fan bolted to the rear. But to be fair to the Lotus, the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s Niki Lauda does cost £3.1 million (plus taxes), making it about 90 times as expensive.
The McLaren F1 designer’s latest creation is the track-only version of the sensational T.50 hypercar revealed last year. The two cars have been developed in tandem, although the Lauda won’t go into production until the 100 road-going cars have been finished in January 2023.
It’ll be well worth the wait for the 25 super-rich track day types signing on the dotted line, though. To go with that absurdly low weight figure, the T.50s has an even more powerful version of the road car’s 3.9-litre, naturally-aspirated Cosworth V12. How does 725bhp sound?
It has revised cylinder heads, new camshafts, a higher compression ratio, and is fed by a roof-mounted ram-air scoop. We get the feeling that’s about as close to forced induction as Murray will ever want to get. The standard version is already the lightest production V12 ever, but this one manages to shave off 16kg, coming in at 162kg.
Upon reaching the lofty redline of 12,100rpm, changing gear will be done not with a manual ‘box as in the T.50, but with a six-speed sequential paddle-shift transmission from Xtrac. The standard ratios give a top speed of around 200-210mph, but if sir or madam will be frequenting smaller tracks, a shorter set of cogs are offered which lower that to 170.
Although the relationship to the T.50 is clear, the T.50s doesn’t share a single carbon fibre panel with its sibling. The new rear wing is a 1758mm-wide whopper, and is paired with a fin for better yaw stability. The famous Brabham BT46-inspired rear fan is the same one fitted to the road car, but here, it’s permanently set to the 7000rpm high downforce mode. All told, the aero package generates 1500kg of downforce.
The forged aluminium double wishbones are carried over from the T.50, but the springs, dampers and anti-roll bar have been “respecified” with track work in mind. It also sits 87mm lower front, and 116mm closer to the front at the lower.
Due to Gordon Murray’s insistence that the T.50 is to be a thoroughly useable beast on the road, it’s fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres rather than aggressive semi-slicks. No such issue with the circuit-only T.50s, which uses full Michelin Slicks. The boots wrap 18-inch magnesium wheels, each of which weighs just 8kg.
The T.50s isn’t the kind of high-end track car that’s looked after by the supplying manufacturer and brought along to specific events where it’s run by a big support crew. You can take it wherever you like, and only need to do “a few basic checks” before heading out.
The car’s reveal coincides with the birthday of the man it’s named after. “Niki was a great racing driver and he was also a good friend and it is absolutely fitting that we are launching the T.50s Niki Lauda on his birthday,” Murray said, adding “Niki would have appreciated the innovation and engineering detail in our car.”